The problem with the TechNet list is that it's a little too comprehensive. It's easy to lose the very useful ping, ipconfig, and tracert commands among the dozens of obscurities, such as atmadm, nbtstat, and unlodctr. You'll find a much more accessible list at Victor Laurie's site, which includes a page describing commands for renaming, deleting, backing up, and otherwise managing … Read more
Sometimes I wonder how Microsoft gets away with it. I mean, you start your PC and every program that loads with Windows tries to be first in line for your precious processing cycles.
So that little specialty utility you use about once a month is wresting resources away from the programs that really need to start right away, such as your antivirus app. You'd think the company that makes the OS would let you set the order of your auto-start programs.
You probably know that when you delete a file, you're not really removing the information from your storage device. Instead, you're designating the space taken up by the file as available for storing new data, should it be needed.
A properly motivated person can recover the deleted information. In fact, data recovery tools such as the free Recuva exist for this very purpose. To keep prying eyes from perusing your deleted data, you need to write over the digital bits that comprise the file. That's where secure-erase utilities come in.
(By the way, the process of recovering … Read more
Three years ago, I attempted to condense PC security into 10 steps you could finish in about an hour. After a recent false-positive on a virus scan, I returned to that advice and realized that those tips are sorely out of date.
I'll re-examine the first three tips here and will cover the rest in posts later this week.
Step one: Set Windows to download and install updates automatically.
I don't do that anymore. Windows updates often cause problems, so I set Windows to download but not install updates. Then I wait a couple of days before actually … Read more
The other day, I counted up the windows that were open on my PC: two browsers, an HTML editor, an image editor, two folder windows, nine received e-mails, and one outgoing message. I was lost on my own desktop.
That's when I remembered my favorite window managers for XP and Vista: Alt-Tab Thingy and Switcher, respectively. Both programs put Windows' built-in window manager to shame.
In XP, you can right-click the taskbar to cascade your open windows or tile them horizontally or vertically. Pressing Alt-Tab opens another window showing icons representing your active windows. (Vista replaces the icons with … Read more
What's the fastest way to shut down Windows?
With a mouse, it takes at least two clicks, plus the time required for the various menus to appear.
With a keyboard, you can shut down Windows XP by pressing the Windows key (or Ctrl-Esc) and typing U twice. In Vista, the shutdown keyboard sequence is Windows key, right arrow three times, Enter.
By default, Vista goes into sleep mode when you press the Windows key, then the right arrow, and then Enter to activate the Start menu's power button. You can change this behavior--letting you shut down with two … Read more
I approach the Windows Registry the same way I approach my dentist's office. I enter both places only when necessary.
Sometimes, the fastest, most efficient way to make your PC more usable is to venture into the belly of the Windows beast via the Registry Editor. Before you make any Registry changes, create a backup by setting a restore point via System Restore.
Put the brakes on stalled apps Programs crash: it's a simple fact of PC life. But you don't have to wait for Windows to spin its wheels while it waits for the stuck process … Read more
Recently, a server upgrade caused my office XP system to reset to its defaults. I knew as soon as I heard the Windows startup chime that something was wrong. The first change I make on any new or renewed PC is to set the Windows sound scheme to No Sounds.
As I reset Windows' default sound settings for the umpteenth time, I got to thinking about the many Windows customizations I make on any machine I use on a regular basis. Here are my five favorite Windows interface tweaks. (Note that the last two default-beaters apply only to Vista.)
Tell … Read more
I got a kick out of the recent headlines stating that Microsoft wants to make the next version of Windows less annoying than Vista. Talk about setting the bar low!
Most of the things that bug me about Windows are easy to fix--the lack of a Run option on Vista's Start menu is an example. To put Run back on the menu, right click the Start button, choose Properties, click Customize under the Start Menu tab, scroll to and check "Run command," and click OK twice.
Here are three other Windows irritations that I finally got around … Read more
Microsoft usually releases patches for Windows on the second Tuesday of the month. But last Thursday, the company sent out an update that was too important to withhold for two more weeks. If you have your PC set to download and/or install Windows updates automatically, you've already received this patch. (You'll find more on managing Windows updates at this previous Worker's Edge blog post.)
In Vista, you can make sure you've got this update by pressing the Windows key, typing Windows Update, and pressing Enter. Click "View update history" in the left pane … Read more